For a week during Lent I had the great privilege of accompanying Father Edwin Gariguez through a solidarity visit of the Atlantic Provinces. Father Edu is executive director of NASSA, the social action arm of the Philippines Catholic church and one of Development and Peace’s most enduring partners. A humble man with a big laugh and a bigger heart, Father Edu spoke to audiences chiefly about two aspects of NASSA’s work: its organizing work in helping landless Filipinos acquire land through the government’s agrarian reform program and its support for an intense anti-mining struggle in Father Edu’s home diocese on the island of Mindoro.
Father Edu has personally and heroically been involved in the anti-mining struggle on Mindoro for fifteen years. Together with the indigenous people of the island, the Mangyans, he has campaigned to keep a Norwegian mining company (INTEX Resources) from expanding its strip-mining activities on Mindoro, a destructive process that wreaks havoc on forests and watersheds. Father Edu survived death threats and took part in an 11 day hunger strike to call attention to the issue. He also travelled to Norway to tell INTEX shareholders about the true human and environmental cost of mining on Mindoro. In the end the Philippines government revoked the mining company’s license.
Just this week it was announced that Father Edu has won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize. He will travel to San Francisco and Washington D.C. with other honorees and will receive an award of $150,000. While it is a personal award, he has dedicated it to the Mangyans of Mindoro who inspired him. He plans to channel the money back into the environmental struggle. One plan he has is to supply bursaries for Mangyans who want to learn more about helping to sustain their communities.
Read the Development and Peace press release: Development and Peace congratulates partner on receiving prestigious environmental award
Here are a few news items announcing the award: